Ending the Epidemic: Science Advances on AIDS

This program brings together leading researchers on the forefront of scientific efforts to understand and attack the virus that causes AIDS. Learn more about this program.

In 2013, a few of the world’s leading AIDS researchers and one lifelong activist with first-hand experience in the fight against AIDS gathered for conversation about the past thirty years. The AIDS crisis began in the early 1980s with a lot of unknowns. As friends and loved ones died – tragedies that were initially thought to be isolated to a community of gay men living in New York City – researchers struggled to understand what they were up against.

Government funding for the research required to answer those urgent questions was slow to come. During this time, HIV – the virus that causes AIDS – spread, along with misinformation that threatened to amplify the devastation. As those closest to the front lines of the fight joined forces and learned more, a collaborative effort has brought about more effective treatments and programs for controlling the spread of HIV, both in the United States and abroad. Take a look at this interactive timeline for a brief overview of how AIDS was discovered.

More than three decades later, moderator Richard Besser is joined by pathologist Susan Zolla-Pazner, biologist David Baltimore, activist Peter Staley, and researcher Robert Grant for a discussion about the early 1980s when AIDS was an unknown killer, the challenges activists and researchers faced trying to convince the federal government to fund the science necessary to rein in the epidemic, and what the future holds as the work towards a cure continues.

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